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Getting on the bus ūüėĪ

Natalie

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Ever wondered what it takes to get on a bus? The fears and scary parts explained and how eventually I overcame them. For some this is not a problem, those with the strongest of characters who really want the world to know about who they are, but for many integrating and becoming the person you really are without any fuss and bother it's a different story.

Many years ago the first hurdle apart from the big step of going out of the front door as the real me, was getting on the bus. For those just beginning the journey from one gender to the other, this can be terrifying and once you have managed it thats when you know you have really begun your transition.

My preparation was always the best, but my confidence wasn't great so every day I found myself in the position of taking the terrifying journey and this is where strength of character comes in. So you are ready to face the world in the new you and hope no one is going to give you a second glance, because in many ways that is what you are trying to achieve. There you are stood at the bus stop waiting for the bus hoping that no one notices you, and then someone turns to you and asks, "Do you have the time please." Now hang on, who doesn't have a watch or a mobile (cell) phone with a big display on it? Its often a good indication that they want to hear your voice, they have looked at you and wondered....is that a man or a woman? The best way to overcome it is to to nod and show them you watch/phone and smile if you're not happy with how your voice sounds. 

Of course the bus stop is often where people talk to each other, (years ago before smartphones and everyone was a bit more social) so when the bus arrives its a bit of a relief, or is it. I suppose its a lot easier now with electronic passes, no words have to be uttered but when I was just starting out, talking was necessary....So you ask for your fare....city centre please.....then once you have your ticket you turn and face the all the passengers, desperately trying to find a seat .....EVERYONE is looking at ME.....no they're not, but thats what it feels like. Seat found, head down ....please don't talk to me. 

I have one of those ...faces. I always sit next to the most talkative person on the bus, it happens often. But then there is the other parts, people looking at YOU....they know, they've spotted me, they know I'm trans and they are looking at me, talking about me.....OMG. The fears of the newbie are immense, in an enclosed space with all these people and THEY KNOW. No, probably they haven't even seen you, but the fear is there all the same.

Seat selection is important, inside seat you have to ask (if you are polite that is) to '"Excuse me please." So outside seats are easier (just don't speak to me). 

If the bus is crowded the next step is to get off the damn bus, ding the bell and hope that its going to be the stop everyone else alights too. If not, it can be a struggle as it might be necessary to say ...excuse me several times. 

The point of all this? I had realised than when I could get on the bus, face the 'crowd', find a seat, talk to my fellow passengers and get off the bus with no problem, that is when I knew I was on my way to being happy with my transition. Thats when you know you have begun to integrate the new you and made it.

Overcoming the fears isn't easy but when I realised that probably no one was really looking at me, no one really noticed anything different about me, it drew less attention anyway. The voice I have found is a powerful delimiter in that you can use the voice to confuse anyone. if you are able to sound like the gender you present, then any unwanted attention seems to be lessened and I found I could overcome many uncomfortable situations.

I hope that you have found this interesting and helpful. 



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Yes, VERY interesting and useful. I’m very early in my transition (almost 6 months) and well remember my fears of riding the metro train to the downtown area for my weekly voice lessons. It’s no big deal now; I’m grateful for that. Now that I’ve read your thoughts I feel a contentment that my transition is going well too.

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Great feeling isn't it? I am pleased that my blog has given you encouragement and hope.

I have just had a visit to my doorstep of two 'Witnesses' and while I am not into their version of religion, I am a Spiritualist and we had a good conversation about our different views.....they never had an idea I am trans, its something I keep very well under wraps, totally stealth. My voice is indiscernible now from any other woman, eventually they had to go, I had talked them into oblivion. Thats the power of getting the voice correct, great tool to have in your armoury.

Any other help I can offer please ask, I have many achievements and adventures and if any of the experience can aid someone I would be delighted to describe how I overcame the problems.

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Yes, it is a great feeling. I've recently adopted a mantra that helps me a lot:

Whenever we feel fear we're up against a kind of wall... on the other side of the wall is a kind of freedom.

I feel these fears fairly often and use the freedom I know I'll feel to motivate me to climb the wall and jump to the other side. 

I have another trans friend (Joanna Santos, Toronto) who also moves about society in complete stealth. Like you, she taught herself about her voice. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you achieved that. My voice coach is wonderful and I hope to "graduate" within a couple of months. It's pretty expensive and, I believe, I am steadily improving on playing my "instrument" (as she calls it) and will be able to at least join the junior orchestra. 

That said I'm lucky to live where I am, in Seattle. I dress nicely and appropriately and even though I doubt I pass anyone's scrutiny everyone is very nice to me. My goals for having a truly feminine voice are to remove a cognitive dissonance I feel when I hear myself speak, and to help people I meet more automatically gender me appropriately. And yet, the wall of a passable voice is quite steep and tall for me. 

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Dear NotAllowed and Emma,

Have noticed that there is a more "rough crowd" riding the bus and subway, as well as visiting the library, 

As for the bus, I try to ride as close as possible to the driver (in the front).

In the subway, I try to ride in the FIRST card (by the conductor) but I notice that there are more "conductor-less" cars, but I would still try to ride in the first car.

In the library, I try to use the computer/tables as close to the librarians at the front desk as possible.

Always carry a "Five Star Responder," by Great Call (www.greatcall.com) and if I press the "panic button" for 5 seconds or less, I get a trained operator, and if I press it for 6 seconds or more, I get BOTH the operator and police.  Also,my exact location shows up on the operator's and police's map.

Just before I wrote this, I was harassed by two Latina/Hispanic young women (for what reason, I don't know) and had to report them to the librarian.

This is one of the reasons I am saving up to get my own computer, so I don't have to go to the library as often.  Hate using the public computer as I feel so vulnerable.

The trans- and homophobia here in upstate New York is so oppressive!

Yours truly,

Monica

 

 

 

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The first motivation I had was when I made contact with one of my cousins (I have two that are trans) and her voice was perfect. This was way back in 1978, that was my first attempt at transitioning. She explained to me that by pushing my voice to an octave higher is what I needed to achieve. At the time the BeeGees were all the rage, Saturday Night Fever and all the songs that flowed from that album were in the chart. So thats where I began, and very soon I could feel the muscles developing. My throat became sore, and when that happened I allowed my overstretched larynx to rest. But that of course produced a reasonable falsetto with no tonal quality.

I am autistic too, now that came in real handy because imitating people is what we do, its how we learn to interact with others. I started imitating natural female voices, in fact I pick up accents quickly and accurately, a lot autistic people do that apparently. All of these different exercises helped a lot, like training any set of muscles, and eventually a natural tone developed. I eventually went to a voice therapist because I wanted to make sure I hadn't damaged my vocal chords and what she had to say amounted to a brilliant pat on back. She said, "There is absolutely nothing I can do to help you, in fact your voice is exactly how it should sound. You have achieved what I try to teach people in your position, lift the larynx higher up and then slide it backwards." So what I am doing essentially is to use my throat muscles to squeeze the larynx, and then my oral cavity and sinuses for volume control. 

A better vocal sound is achieved just by singing along with female singers, or male falsetto voices that have a mature tone, I used my favourite Motown group, the Temptations, their falsetto lead was Eddie Kendricks, (and others) and black singers seem to have that more developed voices at higher ranges. Luther Vandross is another good voice trainer, helps with the tonal values. Once the pitch has been achieved its a case of adjusting the tone to create perfection, the more control of the tone is vital, it gives you the ability to bring emotion into the voice, soften and/or harden how you speak. 

Having a good voice increases confidence, it is key and I have always recommended this any new transitioners to work on it, because it will confuse those bigots like hell.....and I love taking on bigots :D 

 

I have another trans friend (Joanna Santos, Toronto) who also moves about society in complete stealth. Like you, she taught herself about her voice. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you achieved that. My voice coach is wonderful and I hope to "graduate" within a couple of months. It's pretty expensive and, I believe, I am steadily improving on playing my "instrument" (as she calls it) and will be able to at least join the junior orchestra. 

 

‚Äč

       

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Dear NotAllowed and Emma,

Have noticed that there is a more "rough crowd" riding the bus and subway, as well as visiting the library, 

As for the bus, I try to ride as close as possible to the driver (in the front).

In the subway, I try to ride in the FIRST card (by the conductor) but I notice that there are more "conductor-less" cars, but I would still try to ride in the first car.

 

 

‚ÄčHi Monica, I really hope that you are able¬†to overcome what appears to be a terrible time you are having at the moment. I don't know your transition history but building up a resistance to these bullies is vital, its not easy but the more you are able to the easier it becomes. Hurtful words and verbal attacks are¬†dreadful but please remember that it says more about them than you. I¬†know thats cold comfort when all you want to do is be yourself, but try not to isolate yourself too much. Is there any transgender support where you live like groups and clubs perhaps?

If I can be of any help with advice etc, please let me know, (((hug)))  

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Dear Not Allowed,

Am not transgender, but a cisgender Lesbian who is an ally.

Have been mistaken for a transwoman several times.

Am a member of the Mid-Hudson Valley Transgender Association.

Seems like the bullying comes in waves. Not surprised that this happened after the New Year, because people get on a high through Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. During these three holidays, it seems people are on their best behavior.

Am amazed to see this BEHAVIOR in a LIBRARY. Has always been my experience that libraries bring out the best in people, like churches, but no more for either! 

Had a bad day today.

Thank you for your friendship.

Gratefully Yours,

Monica

 

 

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Apologies Monica, the description of your transit ride and library gave and what has happened gave me the wrong impression.

You're right though about libraries, they have always been a place where one can go and find a bit of quiet time for study and reflection, not to be harassed by the worst of society for any reason. Society is becoming worse in so many ways, its not just in your country, mine is much the same, we appear to be going backwards in that regard.

I hope you have a better day today :) 

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Love the post!  My own test of my inner courage to live life on my terms came at the shopping malls. I loved shopping (more back then than now) so the mall seemed a great way to get exposure and experience interacting with the public in a somewhat safe setting. I'm surprised I was never stopped by mall security because some days I would show up and just drive around, park and then drive around some more, trying to summon the courage to get out and go inside. In the early days I frequently failed but I kept at it.  Eventually I made my way inside and  slowly developed my confidence. I was terrified when anyone looked at me and especially when someone engaged me in conversation. Occasionally I was read and that was always emotionally devastating for me. I know, I shouldn't be so hard on myself, but it's a special gift I have -- to kick myself around for failure. There was some point along the way that I knew I had made it. Once I lost the fear and just became more confident the instances of being read were virtually eliminated. 

Edited by Lori
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